Congratulation to our First Communicants!
Once, a gentleman was visiting his son. On Sunday when he went to church he took his little granddaughter with him. While they were in the church, the little girl was observing everything,. Finally they went to receive communion. Grandpa received communion and she got a blessing. On the way back to the pew she asked, “Grandpa when am I going to get one of those?” Grandpa told her, “I will make sure in a couple of years you will receive First Communion.” She kept watching the priest, and grandpa knelt down and prayed. When the priest went to the tabernacle to keep the Blessed Sacrament, she asked grandpa, “What is he doing? Is he putting it in the microwave?”
First of all, I would like to congratulate all of our First Communicants! I am sure all of you are excited to receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. Look at the Cross, and it tells you how much God loves you. Look at the Easter Candle, and it tells you He loves you and wants to be the light of your life. Look at the Altar. Just as your parents feed you so that you can be strong physically, God feeds you from the Altar so that you can be strong spiritually. At your Holy Communion, Jesus comes to you. He wants your communion/relationship with him to be holy. He wants your communion/relationship with everybody to be Holy.
In today’s Gospel of Luke, Luke is presenting two different accounts. Two disciples were explaining how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Among the Jews, this was a ceremonial gesture that began the celebration of an ordinary meal. But among the Christians, it was used as a description of the Eucharist celebration. We read in the Acts of the Apostles 2:42, “They held steadfastly to the apostles’’ teaching and fellowship to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
While the two were explaining the Emmaus experience Jesus appeared to them again and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He showed them His hands and feet to remove their doubts. We read the Gospel of John 20:27, where Jesus was appearing to the apostles and asking doubting Thomas to come to faith. Jesus showed them His risen body and assures us of the physical nature of our own resurrection on the Last Day. The resurrected body is a spiritual body.
Then he reminded them that His suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead are the fulfillment of Moses, prophets, and psalms. There is an emphasis on the term third day, and we can see a couple of references in the Old Testament. In the Book of Genesis 22:13, Isaac was for three days under a death sentence until God intervened to give him back alive to Abraham on the third day. In Jonah 1:17, the experience of Jonah coming forth from a whale after three days in its stomach, foreshadowed Christ’s resurrection from the grave after three days. In Hosea 6:2, Hosea depicted Israel’s restoration from exile as a third-day resurrection.
Saint Teresa looked at her with love and said, “My dear sister, have you forgotten that Jesus is still on earth and that He lives near you-yes, in the house with you, and often in your very soul. Have you also forgotten that you can see Him and can speak to Him as often as you like? Is not Jesus with us in the Most Holy Sacrament? Why then do you wish to have lived long ago, since that same Jesus who lived with Mary and Joseph lives also with you?” Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. And we who are united to Him through our baptism have risen with Him. Jesus lives with us and He gives Himself in the Eucharist as nourishment for our journey, so we can grow in Holiness.
Divine Mercy Sunday
God is love and merciful. He continues to pour out his mercy in the world through new Israel, the Church. In a dream, St. Theresa of Lisieux asked St. Faustina, an apostle of Divine Mercy, to trust in Jesus and she will become a saint. Later St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “God said to me, in the old covenant I sent prophets willingly thunderbolts of my people. Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching humankind, I desire to heal it…”
Pope St. John Paul II declared that the second Sunday, the octave day of Easter, should be Divine Mercy Sunday. St. John Paul II has a great role in spreading the message of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, St. Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. St. Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our faith and hope fixed on God, the Father, rich in mercy, who has saved us by the precious blood of His Son.
Pope Francis continues to spread the message of Mercy. During the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said in one of his homilies, “Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.”
There are two parts to the message of Divine Mercy: devotion and being merciful. Marion Fathers came up with the acronym for the Divine Mercy celebration: FINCH and ABC. FINCH: F-Feast of Divine Mercy, I-Image of Divine Mercy, N-Novena of Divine Mercy, C-Chaplet of Divine Mercy, H-Hour of Divine Mercy. What is ABC? A - Ask for God’s Mercy. B - Be merciful. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C - Completely trust in Jesus.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles talks about the corporal works of Mercy. Early Christian communities were united as a family in every aspect of life. They shared everything, supported each other, and worshiped together. The second reading from the first letter of St. John talks about keeping love for God and keeping the commandment.
In the Gospel of John, we see doubting Thomas. In the first part, Jesus said to his disciples, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." We read in the Book of Genesis 2:7, God breathed on the first man and gave him life. We see other passages in the Old Testament about the breath of God. In Ezekiel 37:9, where God raises an army of corpses to new life by the breath of the Spirit. In the first book of Kings (17:21), we see Elijah revives the dead son of the widow of Zarephath. After the resurrection Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them new life: spiritual life.
Jesus asked them to receive the Holy Spirit, and then he commissioned them to forgive the sins. Jesus' ministry of mercy and reconciliation will continue through the apostles. A week later Jesus appeared to them and Thomas proclaims the faith, “My Lord and My God.” Apostles experience God’s mercy and proclaim it in a loud voice. Jesus empowered his disciples to become the vehicle of his mercy.
God sends people to remind us of his mercy. St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “God said to me, in the old covenant I sent prophets willingly, thunderbolts of my people. Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching humankind, I desire to heal it…”
On Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 p.m. our cluster will have Divine Mercy Sunday service. It includes Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available. Please come and join. Thank you.
We all like to celebrate our birthdays. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Pentecost is not a name but rather it is a number, means 50. It is the conclusion of 50 days of the Easter season. The Jews celebrated the feast of Pentecost fifty days after the Passover. Originally it was an agricultural harvest festival after the fifty days of Passover, as we read in the book Exodus chapter 34. Later they celebrated the giving of the law at Mount Sinai after fifty days of Passover. Now we celebrate the new Pentecost after the fifty days of Jesus' resurrection. When God came to Mount Sinai, there was fire and loud sound with a trumpet blast (Exodus 19:16-19). In the new Pentecost, there was mighty winds and tongues of fire come to over the apostles (Acts 2:1-4).
In the Book Joel 3:1& 2, we read, “Thus says the LORD: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter in his first speech after Pentecost quotes book of Joel and explaining about the coming Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word RUAH means, breath, or wind. From the Book of Genesis onwards, we can see the presence of the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:1-2 we see the Spirit's creative power were active present in the world. In Chapter 2:7 we see God blew into the nostril of Man the breath of life. In the Gospel of John 20:21 & 22, Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection and said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Throughout the Bible, God’s power, or spirit is bestowed on chanson individuals.
On Pentecost Sunday the Apostles proclaimed the Christian message, they presented the Gospel to people from all over the world yet were heard speaking in their own languages. The Greeks heard the message in Greek, the Persians in Farsi, the Romans in Latin, the Jews in Hebrew or Aramaic, etc. Although the people who heard the message were from all over, the message itself united them into one people. This was and is the work of the Holy Spirit, forming us into One Person, the Body of Christ.
We all received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and Confirmation. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Anointing of the Holy Spirit takes place in us when we eagerly ask for it. Sometimes we may tempted to think, it is for the saintly people. It is a wrong concept. Anointing of the Holy Spirit is for all of us to grow in holiness. Jesus promised apostles an advocate, a helper. When they received the Holy Spirit, transformed their life, they got out of the fear, they got out of the walls of the upper room. They went out to the street and proclaimed the Good News.
Let us repeat Cardinal Newman’s favorite little prayer, “Come Holy Spirit:”
“Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love. AMEN.”
There is a beautiful old story that tells of how Jesus, after His ascension into Heaven, was surrounded by the Holy Angels who began to enquire about his work on earth. Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, death, and resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of the world. The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?" Jesus said, "While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. "You mean Peter, who denied you thrice and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn't work?" Jesus said, "I have no other plan – it must work." Truly, Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of his followers! Jesus counts on you and me. Are we ready?
St. Augustine writes that Christ is our head and we are one with him. He says, “No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by union with us, and we by our union with him are sons of God.” He quotes the Apostles, “just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ.” Ascension invites us to reflect on our identity. Jesus, through his passion, death, and resurrection, opened up for a new pathway for relationship. He promised advocate, Holy Spirit to guide us and walk with us.
Sunday, May 24, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Distribution of Communion at St. Anthony!
Last Tuesday, all of the Pastors had a meeting with Bishop James Powers and talked about the distribution of Holy Communion in a responsible way. Sunday, May 24, 2020 we, Northwoods Catholic Communities will gather at St. Anthony for the reception of Holy Communion from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. I know there will be questions about the other two parishes (Immaculate Conception and St. Francis). It is very important to receive the Eucharist, at the same time we have to do it in a very responsible and safe way. We will start at St. Anthony for one or two weeks; it will be a learning time. Then slowly we can start the other two parishes too.
The idea is everyone watches Mass online or on TV and comes for Holy Communion in the afternoon. There will be a very short prayer service for immediate preparation to receive the Eucharist. After receiving the Eucharist, there will be a closing prayer, and then everyone is leaves the building. There won’t be any opportunity to stay in the Church and pray, because there is another group that will be coming in.
When you come into the building, please use the parking lot entrance. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask. Hand sanitizers will be available at the entrance and exit doors. You are coming through the Parking Lot Entrance and leaving through the South Entrance.
If you have any symptoms, sickness, or a compromised immune system, we encourage staying home and watch Mass online or on TV and receive Spiritual Communion.
When you come to the parking lot entrance, there will be greeters at the parking lot entrance to give guidance and instruct you. We are gathering ONLY EIGHT PEOPLE at a time. The first eight people gather in the Church for the Communion Service. If we have more than eight people, one of the Deacons will do a second prayer service in the Padua Center. If we still have another group of eight people, a third prayer Service will take place at School Cafeteria. At the end of the prayer service at each location (Padua Center and Cafeteria), you are coming to the Church to receive Communion and leaving through the South Entrance. When you come to the church for Holy Communion, there will be only one line and each individual should keep six feet distancing. You can receive Communion only in the hands.
The prayer service is very short, 6 or 7 minutes, so we encourage everyone not to sit, or kneel down and not touch either. The doors will be wide open; so you can just walk in and out.
Saint Teresa of Avila, the 16th-century Spanish mystic, saw an angel rushing towards her, carrying a torch and a bucket of water. “Where are you going with that torch and bucket,” she asked; “what will you do with them?”
“With the water,” the angel answered, “I will put out the fires of hell, and with the fire, I will burn down the mansions of heaven; then we will see who really loves God.”
The angel’s point is that many people obey God’s commandments out of fear or hope of reward in heaven. But Jesus tells us, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Jesus loves us, so he says; Father will give us an Advocate in his name.
This weekend supposed to have Confirmation. Because of our present situation, it is postponed. Today’s readings speak about joy. There is the joy that new Christians in Samaria had after Philip baptized them. There is the joy that St. Peter tells us is the reason for our hope. There is the joy that Jesus says comes from the Love of the Father. Jesus says Father will give you the Holy Spirit, the animating power of love.
The first reading Philip perched the Good News to people of Samaria and Peter and John went there to give baptism and laying hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Peter’s the first letter to the Church explains how the Holy Spirit makes possible God-fearing lives in the midst of opposition and persecution. Peter encourages the Christians in the midst of persecution in the second reading.
Jesus made a long farewell speech at the Last Supper. Today’s Gospel reading is part of the long "Farewell Discourse." Jesus assures his disciples that they will not be left as orphans. Like the Good counselor He is, the Holy Spirit enables us to become stronger. The Holy Spirit comes to our aid and gives us the strength to make difficult and painful decisions. The Holy Spirit actually lives in us, and we hear the voice of the Spirit, counseling, and guiding us in the way of truth. Let us open our minds and hearts to hear Him and to obey His promptings.
Let us pray for our Confirmation Candidates, their sponsors, and families. Let us also pray for our graduates.
Happy Mother’s Day! One of my favorite Spanish proverbs: "An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy." The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial love in its purest form as given by Jesus in his farewell speech: love one another as I have loved you. Mothers leave their legacy with us. They live in and through us.
On Mother’s Day let us Christians, acknowledge the truth that we have two mothers: our earthly mother and our heavenly mother, Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the mother of Jesus, Mary most holy, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. She born into humble surroundings, she was called by God to be the mother of the Son of God. She affirmed her obedience to the call of God and lived out her vocation throughout her entire life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, is the true model of motherhood.
An Indian poet says in his one of the poems, mother never dies. He says mother gives her blood to her children when they are in the womb, and when they are born through breastfeeding those mothers share their life. Mothers live through their children. We pray on this Mothers’ Day, for all our mothers, whether they are alive or have gone to their eternal reward. Let us thank God for all mothers and offer them at the altar. Happy Mather’s Day!
Today, in the Gospel, Jesus gives us a big picture. He begins and ends this short teaching at the Last Supper with the need to have faith. There is an incident from St. John Chrysostom’s life. When he was summoned before the Roman emperor Arcadius and threatened with banishment, he replied, “You cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will kill you,” exclaimed the emperor angrily. “No, you cannot,” retorted Chrysostom, “because my life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Your treasures shall be confiscated,” the emperor replied grimly. “Sir, you can’t do that because my treasures are in heaven as my heart is there.” “I will drive you from your people and you shall have no friends left,” threatened the emperor. “That you cannot do either, Sir, for I have a Friend in heaven who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” In today’s gospel Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life gives us the same assurance. “In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
In the Gospel, we see Philip and Thomas ask questions. They are searching for answers. They want God in their lives. In the first reading, the Twelve try to find more time for prayer and proclaiming the Word of God. They need to be with God and share the Good News.
Do we seek God? Do we spend time with God? We need to make a prayer schedule, and we need to keep it. Jesus says, “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places…I am the way and the truth and the life.” He is the true way to the Father; he is the fullness of truth and fullness of life, life eternal.
Good Shepherd Sunday! The month of May, the month of Mary!
The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” The scripture lessons for this weekend is about the role of the shepherd. Each year, this Sunday we reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who devotedly and kindly takes care of his flock.
In his book, The Holy Land, John Kellman describes a field pen. It consists of a circular stone wall about four feet high with an opening in it. Kellman says that one-day a Holy Land tourist saw a field pen near Hebron. He asked a shepherd sitting nearby, “where’s the gate for your pen?” The shepherd said, “I am the gate.”
The shepherd then told the tourist how he herded his flock into the pen each night. Then he lay down across the narrow entrance. No sheep could leave the pen, and no wild animal could enter it, without stepping on his body.
Jesus is our shepherd, who lays down his life for us, to give us new life and He is with us. He broke the bread and said to his disciples, this is My Body, take, and eat it. Jesus tells us the same, “This is My Body.” We are fed at this table and send out shepherd in our daily life. We are called to do the same, to break us and give to others.
We can see the image of shepherd throughout the Bible. In the book of the prophet Jeremiah chapter 23, we see the contrast between the good shepherd and false shepherd. The Lord says, “I will raise up a righteous branch for David; as king, he shall reign and govern wisely.” This weekend we have responsorial psalm 23. This psalm tells us that our God is a loving and caring God, he is with us.
Today is the Good Shepherd Sunday and “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” Let us pray for Pope Francis, he shepherds our church. Let us pray for Bishop of our diocese James Powers, all the priests, religious, deacons, seminarians. Let us also pray for all those who are like a shepherd in our life.
The month of May is dedicated to Mary. The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the mother of Jesus, Mary most holy, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. She was born into humble surroundings, she was called by God to be the mother of the Son of God. She affirmed her obedience to the call of God, and lived out her vocation throughout her entire life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother is the true model of motherhood.
Our nation is consecrated to Mary. As we continue to face the ongoing effects of the pandemic of the coronavirus, the president of USSCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez has announced that the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 1 in renewing the consecration of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother. When you read this bulletin, we might have passed the time of consecration. We will be joining with Archbishop José H. Gomez and other Bishop to renew the consecration on May 1st at 2 p.m. central time. Let us continue to ask the intercession of our Mother for our life, especially this time of great need.